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26 Oklahoma Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) to Grow for Monarch Butterflies

Oklahoma Milkweed Species to Include in your Butterfly Garden

There are twenty-six species of native Oklahoma milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) that can be grown for Monarch Butterflies and other insects. Milkweeds are an important host species for Monarch, Queen, and Soldier Butterflies. The Monarch butterfly in particular uses the cardenolides found in the milky sap of milkweeds to give an unpleasant taste to predators. These plants are also an important nectar source to all insects visiting your pollinator garden.

Oklahoma Milkweeds

1. Clasping Milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis), a Milkweed for Dry Soils

Clasping Milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis): Clasping milkweed is native in the central and eastern counties of Oklahoma (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, Clasping milkweed grows in dry woodlands, prairies, meadows, and roadsides having sandy or gravelly soil. Growing up to 3 feet tall, this plant has greenish-pink, red, brown, to purple flowers that bloom from March to September.

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, clasping milkweed is hardy in zones 3-9 and can be grown in places with full sun to part-shade having dry sandy soil. Seeds of clasping milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Plant of clasping milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis) with pink flowers in a wooded area.
Clasping Milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis) — Mason Brock (Masebrock), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Pinkish flowers of clasping milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis) in a field.
Flowers of Clasping Milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis) — cassi saari, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Reddish-pink flowers of clasping milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis) in a field.
Flowers — “Asclepias amplexicaulis – Clasping Milkweed” by FritzFlohrReynolds is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

2. Western Sand Milkweed (Asclepias arenaria), a Milkweed for Sandy Soil

Western Sand Milkweed (Ascelpias arenaria): Western sand milkweed is native mainly in the central and western counties of Oklahoma (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, western sand milkweed grows in open places such as fields, pastures, dunes, sandhills, and roadsides. This milkweed grows up to 3 feet tall, and has pale-green to greenish-white flowers having a purplish hue that bloom from May to October.

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, western sand milkweed requires sandy well-drained soil in full sun and is hardy in zones 4-9. Seeds of western sand milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Plant of western sand milkweed (Asclepias arenaria).
White Flowers of Western Sand Milkweed (Asclepias arenaria) — by Coastlander is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
White flowers of western sand milkweed (Asclepias arenaria).
Flowers of Western Sand Milkweed — Asclepias arenaria Torr. observed in United States of America by Michelle (licensed under CC BY 4.0)
White flowers of western sand milkweed (Asclepias arenaria).
White Flowers — Asclepias arenaria Torr. observed in United States of America by calinsdad (licensed under CC0 1.0)

3. Spider Milkweed (Asclepias asperula), a Milkweed for Dry Soils

Spider Milkweed (Ascelpias asperula): Spider milkweed is native throughout Oklahoma, except for the eastern counties (Kartesz 2015). Spider milkweed has two subspecies, one of which, subspecies capricornu is in Oklahoma. In the wild, spider milkweed is found in dry open habitats such as desert swales and scrub and pastures. Growing from 1 to 3 feet high, the cream-green flowers bloom from April to June.

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, spider milkweed requires a full sun exposure with dry and/or rocky soils. Seeds of spider milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Plant of spider milkweed (Asclepias asperula) with white flowers.
Spider Milkweed (Asclepias asperula) — Patrick Alexander from Las Cruces, NM, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Spider milkweed (Asclepias asperula) with honeybee.
Spider Milkweed (Asclepias asperula) — LevyRat, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Plant of spider milkweed (Asclepias asperula) in a field.
Spider Milkweed (Asclepias asperula) — Mason Brock (Masebrock), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

4. Engelmann’s Milkweed (Asclepias engelmanniana), a Milkweed for Dry Soils

Engelmann’s Milkweed (Ascelpias engelmanniana): Engelmann’s milkweed is native to throughout Oklahoma except for a scattered distribution in the eastern counties (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, Engelmann’s milkweed is found in dry open habitats such as desert swales, scrub and pastures. Growing from 2 to 5 feet tall, this plant has cream-green flowers that bloom from May to September.

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, Engelmann’s milkweed requires full sun, dry sandy or limestone soils and is hardy in zones 5-9. Seeds of Engelmann’s milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Greenish-white flower cluster of engelmann's milkweed (Asclepias engelmanniana).
Flower of Engelmann’s Milkweed — Asclepias engelmanniana Woodson observed in United States of America by calinsdad (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Plant of Engelmann's milkweed (Asclepias engelmanniana) in an open area.
Plant of Engelmann’s Milkweed — Asclepias engelmanniana Woodson observed in United States of America by calinsdad (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Plant of engelmann's milkweed (Asclepias engelmanniana) with flowers.
Plant of Engelmann’s Milkweed — Asclepias engelmanniana Woodson observed in United States of America by calinsdad (licensed under CC0 1.0)

5. Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), a Milkweed for Moist Soils

Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata): Swamp milkweed has two subspecies, ssp. incarnata and ssp. pulchra. The former is native in the mainly in the eastern counties of Oklahoma (Kartesz 2015), while the latter is not present. Like the name suggests in the wild it is found in wet places including the shores of streams, lakes, ponds, and other wetlands. This is one of the taller milkweeds growing from 3 to 5 feet tall. The flowers, which bloom from July to September are generally a pink to red color, but there is also a white cultivar (pictured below).

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, var. incarnata of swamp milkweed is hardy in zones 3-9 and requires full sun to part shade and prefers moist to medium moisture soil, but it can exist in drier soil. Seeds of swamp milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Pink flowers of swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) from Pennsylvania.
Flowers of Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) — Cbaile19, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) 'Ice Ballet' cultivar.
‘Ice Ballet’ cultivar of Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) — Photo by and (c)2009 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man), GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons
Follicles (fruits) of swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) in a garden.
Follicles — “Swamp milkweed, rose milkweed, asclepias incarnata, new England native garden” by sapienssolutions is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

6. Dwarf Milkweed (Asclepias involucrata), a Milkweed for Sandy Well-drained Soils

Dwarf Milkweed (Asclepias involucrata): Dwarf milkweed is native and rare in Cimarron County in the western panhandle of Oklahoma (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, this species grows on prairies with sandy soil. This is one of the shorter milkweeds growing from 0.5 to 1 foot tall. The flowers, which bloom from May to June are white to green (Singhurst and Hutchins 2015).

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, dwarf milkweed requires full sun and well-drained sandy soil. However, this species is rare in a lot of its range and is likely not in the horticultural trade.

Cream flowers of dwarf milkweed (Asclepias involucrata).
Cream Flowers of Dwarf Milkweed — “Asclepias involucrata” by aspidoscelis is marked with CC0 1.0.
Plant of dwarf milkweed (Asclepias involucrata) in a dry area.
Plant of Dwarf Milkweed — “Asclepias involucrata” by aspidoscelis is marked with CC0 1.0.
Herbarium specimen of dwarf milkweed (Asclepias involucrata).
Herbarium Specimen — Asclepias involucrata Engelm. ex Torr. collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

7. Side-Cluster Milkweed (Asclepias lanuginosa), an Oklahoma Milkweed for Moist to Wet Soils

Side-Cluster Milkweed (Asclepias lanunginosa): Side-cluster milkweed is native and rare in Woods County in the northern part of Oklahoma. (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, side-cluster milkweed grows on prairies and sandhills having full sun. The height of this milkweed is variable and ranges from 0.5 to 4 feet tall, but can grow up 6 feet in favorable places. The flowers range in color from green to cream and bloom from May to July.

While side-cluster milkweed is hardy in zones 4-7 it is rare and not in the horticultural trade.

Plant of side-cluster milkweed (Asclepias lanuginosa).
Plant of Side-cluster Milkweed — Asclepias lanuginosa Nutt. observed in Canada by Chris Friesen (licensed under CC BY 4.0)
Close-up of yellowish-green flowers of side-cluster milkweed (Asclepias lanuginosa).
Flowers of Side-Cluster Milkweed — Asclepias lanuginosa Nutt. observed in Canada by Chris Friesen (licensed under CC BY 4.0)
Plants of side-cluster milkweed (Asclepias lanuginosa) with white flowers.
Plant of Side-Cluster Milkweed with White Flowers — Asclepias lanuginosa Nutt. observed in Canada by Chris Friesen (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

8. Broad-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias latifolia), a Milkweed for Dry Sandy Soils

Broad-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias latifolia): Broad-leaf milkweed is native in the central and western counties of Oklahoma (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, broad-leaf milkweed grows in open areas having full sun such as prairies, roadsides, and other right-of-ways. Growing from 1 to 3 feet tall, the greenish to yellow flowers bloom from May to August.

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, broad-leaf milkweed is hardy in zones 5-8, and grows best in places having full sun to part-shade with dry sandy soils. Seeds of broad-leaf milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Plant of broad-leaf milkweed (Asclepias latifolia) in a dry area.
Plant of Broad-leaf Milkweed — Asclepias latifolia (Torr.) Raf. observed in United States of America by Martin Havran (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Close-up of greenish-white flowers of broad-leaf milkweed (Asclepias latifolia).
Greenish-white Flowers — “Broadleaf milkweed (Asclepias latifolia)” by nmsuipm is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Plant of broad-leaf milkweed (Asclepias latifolia) in a field.
Plant of Broad-leaf Milkweed — Asclepias latifolia (Torr.) Raf. observed in United States of America by Michael D. Warriner (licensed under CC0 1.0)

9. Long-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias longifolia), a Milkweed for Moist Soils

Long-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias longifolia): Long-leaf milkweed is native generally in the eastern and central counties of Oklahoma (Kartesz 2015). This species has two varieties, var. hirtella and var. longifolia, both of which occur in the state. The former is more common in the central and eastern counties, while the latter is rarer and more scattered in distribution. In the wild, long-leaf milkweed grows in moist areas and wetlands such as bogs, swamps, wet flatwoods, and moist prairies. Growing from 1 to 2.5 feet tall, the greenish-white flowers bloom from April to July.

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, long-leaf milkweed requires full sun, moist to wet soils, and is hardy in zones 4-9.

Purplish flowers of long-leaf milkweed (Asclepias longifolia).
Flowers of Long-leaf Milkweed — Asclepias longifolia Michx. observed in United States of America by Justin (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Yellowish-pink flowers of long-leaf milkweed (Asclepias longifolia).
Close-up of Flowers of Long-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias longifolia) — Public Domain Image
Pink flower cluster of long-leaf milkweed (Asclepias longifolia) in an open area.
Flowers of Long-leaf Milkweed — Asclepias longifolia Michx. observed in United States of America by cnagele (licensed under CC0 1.0)

10. Long-hood Milkweed (Asclepias macrotis), a Milkweed for Dry Soils

Long-hood Milkweed (Asclepias macrotis): Long-hood milkweed is native and rare in Cimarron and Texas Counties in the western panhandle of Oklahoma (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, long-hood milkweed grows on dry hills and mesas (Woodson 1954) and limestone (Singhurst and Hutchins 2015) having full sun. Growing from 0.3 to 1 foot tall it is among the shortest milkweeds in Texas. The greenish-yellow to yellowish-white flowers bloom from May to October.

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, long-hood milkweed is hardy in zones 8-10 and requires full sun with dry soils.

Plant with white flowers of long-hood milkweed (Asclepias macrotis).
Asclepias macrotis Torr. observed in United States of America by Craig Martin (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Close-up of flowers of long-hood milkweed (Asclepias macrotis).
Close-up of Flowers — Asclepias macrotis Torr. observed in United States of America by Craig Martin (licensed under CCO 1.0)
Plant of long-hood milkweed (Asclepias macrotis) with white flowers.
Plant of Long-hood Milkweed — Asclepias macrotis Torr. observed in United States of America by Patrick Alexander (licensed under CC0 1.0)

11. Pineland Milkweed (Asclepias obovata), a Milkweed for Well-drained Soils in Full Sun

Pineland Milkweed (Asclepias obovata): Pineland is native to the southeastern counties of Oklahoma (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, pineland milkweed grows, as the name would suggest, on pinelands, but it also can be found on coastal prairies (Singhurst and Hutchins 2015) and on roadsides and fields. Growing from 0.5 to 3 feet tall, this species has greenish-yellow flowers with purplish hoods that bloom from June to October.

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, pineland milkweed is hardy in zones 7-10 and requires full sun with well-drained soils.

Plant of pineland milkweed (Asclepias obovata) with greenish-yellow flowers.
Plant of Pineland Milkweed — Asclepias obovata Elliott observed in United States of America by kcthetc1 (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Greenish-yellow flowers of pineland milkweed (Asclepias obovata).
Greenish-yellow flowers — Asclepias obovata Elliott observed in United States of America by kcthetc1 (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Herbarium specimen of pineland milkweed (Asclepias obovata).
Herbarium Specimen — Asclepias obovata Elliott collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

12. Zizotes Milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides), a Milkweed for Well-drained high pH Soils

Zizotes Milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides): Zizotes milkweed is native with a scattered distribution in the central and southern counties of Oklahoma (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, zizotes milkweed grows on rocky areas with limestone having a high pH. It can also be found in open areas such as fields, thickets, and roadsides (Woodson 1954). Growing from 1 to 2 feet tall, this species has white, greenish-white to yellow flowers that bloom from April to November.

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, zizotes milkweed is hardy in zones 7-9 and requires full sun to partial-shade with mesic to dry well-drained high pH soils.

Close-up of greenish-white flowers of zizotes milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides).
Zizotes Milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides) — Patrick Alexander from Las Cruces, NM, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Plant of zizotes milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides) in a rocky area.
Zizotes Milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides) — Patrick Alexander from Las Cruces, NM, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Close-up of greenish-white flowers of zizotes milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides).
Flowers of Zizotes Milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides) — Patrick Alexander from Las Cruces, NM, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

13. Low Milkweed (Asclepias pumila), a Milkweed for Dry Soils

Low Milkweed (Asclepias pumila): Low milkweed is native to the central and western counties of the state (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, low milkweed grows in dry open areas having full sun such as prairies. One of the shorter milkweeds, this plant grows from 0.5 to 1.5 feet tall. The flowers are white, greenish-white or yellowish-white with hints of red and bloom from July to September.

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, low milkweed requires full sun, dry sandy and/or gravelly soils, and is hardy in zones 5-9.

Close-up of white flowers of low milkweed (Asclepias pumila).
Flowers of Low Milkweed (Asclepias pumila) — English: NPS Photo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Plant of low milkweed (Asclepias pumila) with fruits.
Fruits of Low Milkweed — Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Plant of low milkweed (Asclepias pumila) with white flowers.
Low Milkweed (Asclepias pumila) — Jim Pisarowicz, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

14. Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens), a Milkweed for Moist Soils

Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens): Purple milkweed is native and scattered in four eastern counties in Oklahoma (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, purple milkweed grows in moist to dry places having full sun to part shade such as swamps, woodlands, meadows, roadsides, and dry fields. Growing up to 6 feet tall, this plant has purple to pink flowers that bloom from May to July.

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, purple milkweed is hardy in zones 3-8 and requires part shade but can handle full sun. Soils should be moist and well-drained, but dry soil can be tolerated. Seeds of purple milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Close-up of pinkish-purple flowers of purple milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens).
Flower cluster of Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens) — Steepcone, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Plants of purple milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens).
Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens) — peganum from Henfield, England, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Green follicle of purple milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens).
Fruit (Follicle) of Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens) — Chris Light, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

15. Four-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias quadrifolia), a Milkweed for Dry/Rocky Soils

Four-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias quadrifolia): Four-leaf milkweed is native mainly in the eastern counties and one county in the central part of Oklahoma (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, four-leaf milkweed grows in open areas such as roadsides, pastures, and prairies that are dry or rocky. Growing from 1 to 3 feet tall, this milkweed has white to pink flowers that bloom from April to July.

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, four-leaf milkweed is hardy in zones 5-8 and requires full sun to part shade and dry/rocky soils.

Plant of four-leaf milkweed (Asclepias quadrifolia) in a wooded area.
Four-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias quadrifolia) with lavender Flowers– User:Halpaugh, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Pinkish flowers of four-leaf milkweed (Asclepias quadrifolia).
Flowers of Four-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias quadrifolia) — User:Halpaugh, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Plant of four-leaf milkweed (Asclepias quadrifolia) with white flowers.
Four-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias quadrifolia) — Eric Hunt, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

16. Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa), a Milkweed for Medium to Dry Soils

Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa): Showy milkweed is native and has a scattered distribution throughout Oklahoma (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, showy milkweed grows in mesic to dry open areas such as roadsides, fields, and woodlands. Growing from 1 to 3 feet tall, this plant has purple to pink flowers that bloom from April to June.

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, showy milkweed is hardy in zones 3-9 and requires places of full sun having medium to dry well-drained soil. Seeds of showy milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Pinkish flowers of showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa).
Flowers of Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) — Matt Lavin from Bozeman, Montana, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Pinkish-white flowers of showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa).
Close-up of Pinkish-white Flowers — Asclepias speciosa Torr. observed in Canada by markeambard (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Follicle of showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa).
Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) Follicle — John Rusk from Berkeley, CA, United States of America, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

17. Slim-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias stenophylla), a Milkweed for Dry Soils

Slim-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias stenophylla): Slim-leaf milkweed is native throughout Oklahoma (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, slim-leaf milkweed grows in open areas with full sun such as prairies and sandy areas. Growing from 0.5 to 3 feet tall, this milkweed has greenish-white flowers that bloom from June to August.

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, slim-leaf milkweed is hardy in zones 3-9 and requires full sun and dry sandy or gravelly soils. Seeds of slim-leaf milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Plant of slim-leaf milkweed (Asclepias stenophylla).
Close-up of slim-leaf milkweed plant — Asclepias stenophylla A.Gray observed in United States of America by Craig Martin (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Close-up of Yellowish flowers of slim-leaf milkweed (Asclepias stenophylla).
Flowers of Slim-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias stenophylla) — Samuel A. Schmid, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Plant of slim-leaf milkweed (Asclepias stenophylla) in an open area.
Plant of Slim-leaf Milkweed — Asclepias stenophylla A.Gray observed in United States of America by Craig Martin (licensed under CC0 1.0)

18. Horsetail Milkweed (Asclepias subverticillata), a Milkweed for All Soils

Horsetail Milkweed (Asclepias subverticillata): Horsetail milkweed is native in two counties, Cimarron and Alfalfa in Oklahoma (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, horsetail milkweed grows in open areas with full sun such as rocky plains and flats, roadsides, waste places, and marshes and wet areas. Growing up to 4 feet tall, this milkweed has white to greenish-white flowers that bloom from May to September.

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, horsetail milkweed is hardy in zones 5-8, requires full sun, and can handle a variety of moisture conditions. Seeds of horsetail milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Greenish-white flowers of horsetail milkweed (Asclepias subverticillata).
Flowers of Horsetail Milkweed (Asclepias subverticillata) — Patrick Alexander from Las Cruces, NM, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Plants of horsetail milkweed (Asclepias subverticillata).
Horsetail Milkweed (Asclepias subverticillata) in a field — Patrick Alexander from Las Cruces, NM, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Close-up of white flowers of horsetail milkweed (Asclepias subverticillata).
White flowers of Horsetail Milkweed — Asclepias subverticillata (Gray) Vail observed in United States of America by Rod (licensed under CC0 1.0)

19. Sullivant’s Milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii), a Milkweed for Medium to Dry Soils

Sullivant’s Milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii): Sullivant’s milkweed is native with a very scattered distribution eastern and central counties of Oklahoma (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, Sullivant’s milkweed grows in open areas with full sun such as prairies, meadows, roadsides, and railroads. Growing from 2 to 5 feet tall, this milkweed has pink to purplish flowers that bloom from June to July.

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, Sullivant’s milkweed is hardy in zones 3-7 and requires full sun and medium to dry sandy soil. Seeds of Sullivant’s milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Plant of sullivant's milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii) with pink flowers.
Sullivant’s Milkweed in a field — Asclepias sullivantii Engelm. ex A.Gray observed in United States of America by Nancy Navarre (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Plant of sullivant's milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii) in a field.
Plant of Sullivant’s Milkweed — Asclepias sullivantii Engelm. ex A.Gray observed in United States of America by samk (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Brown follicle (fruit) of sullivant's milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii).
Follicle (fruit) of Sullivant’s Milkweed — Asclepias sullivantii Engelm. ex A.Gray observed in United States of America by Nancy Navarre (licensed under CC0 1.0)

20. Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), a Milkweed for All Soils

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca): Common milkweed is native throughout Oklahoma, but with a scattered distribution (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, common milkweed grows in open areas such as fields, pastures, and roadsides, where there is full sun. One of the taller milkweeds, it can grow up to 6 feet tall and has flowers ranging from pink, greenish-purple, greenish-white, to white that bloom from June to August.

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, common milkweed is hardy in zones 3-9. Seeds of common milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Flowers of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), a North Carolina milkweed.
Pink Flowers of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) — Robert Coxe, Image
Plant of common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) with pink flowers.
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) — Cbaile19, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) with eastern tiger swallowtail.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Common Milkweed — Author Image

21. Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), a Milkweed for all Soils

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa): Butterfly weed is one of the most common for butterfly gardeners on the east coast of the United States. In Oklahoma, subspecies interior of this species grows throughout Oklahoma (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, butterfly weed grows in open areas with full sun such as fields, roadsides, and open woods. Growing from 1 to 3 feet tall, it has characteristically orange flowers that bloom throughout the summer and sometimes into the autumn.

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, butterfly weed is hardy from zones 3-9. Seeds of butterfly weed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Orange flowers of butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa).
Plant of Butterfly Weed in McMullen House Garden — Robert Coxe, Image
Monarch butterfly on butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa).
Butterfly Weed with Monarch Butterfly — U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Follicles of butterfly weed showing seeds.
Butterfly Weed Follicles — User:SB_Johnny, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

22. Wheel Milkweed (Asclepias uncialis), a Milkweed for Well-drained Soil

Wheel Milkweed (Asclepias uncialis): Wheel milkweed is native and rare in Cimarron and Texas Counties in Oklahoma (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, wheel milkweed grows in open areas with full sun such as shortgrass prairie, sandstone rocks, and pinyon-pine woodlands. Growing from 1 to 2.5 inches tall, it is the shortest milkweed in Texas. In the spring (March to June), the rose-purple to pink flowers bloom. The flowers are noted for their fragrance (Decker 2006).

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, wheel milkweed is hardy in zones 6-8. This species is rare in all of the states where it is found and is not in cultivation.

Plant of wheel milkweed (Asclepias uncialis) in a rocky dry area.
Plant of Wheel Milkweed in a Desert — Asclepias uncialis Greene observed in United States of America by Patrick Alexander (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Close-up of pink flowers of wheel milkweed (Asclepias uncialis).
Pink Flowers of Wheel Milkweed — Asclepias uncialis Greene observed in United States of America by Patrick Alexander (licensed under CC0 1.0)
Herbarium specimen of wheel milkweed (Asclepias uncialis).
Herbarium Specimen — Asclepias uncialis Greene collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

23. Red-Ring Milkweed (Asclepias variegata), a Milkweed for Dry Soils

Red-Ring Milkweed (Asclepias variegata): Red-ring milkweed is native to the eastern counties of Oklahoma (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, red-ring milkweed grows in thickets, open woods and roadsides that are dry and rocky/sandy. Growing from 1 to 4 feet tall, it has white flowers with a purple or red ring at the base that bloom from May to July.

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, red-ring milkweed is hardy in zones 3-9. Seeds of red-ring milkweed can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Close-up of white flowers of red ring milkweed (Asclepias variegata).
Flowers of Red-ring Milkweed (Asclepias variegata) — Masebrock, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Plant of red ring milkweed (Asclepias variegata) in a wooded area.
Plant of Red-ring Milkweed — “Asclepias variegata” by coatlicue is marked with CC0 1.0.
Herbarium specimen of red ring milkweed (Asclepias variegata).
Herbarium Specimen — Asclepias variegata L. collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

24. Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata), a Milkweed for Medium to Dry Soil

Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata): Whorled milkweed is native throughout Oklahoma (Kartesz 2015). Whorled milkweed has green to white flowers that bloom from May to September. In the wild, like a lot of other milkweeds, it grows in open areas such as meadows and fields, taking advantage of full sun.

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, whorled milkweed is hardy in zones 3-9, requires full sun to part shade, and medium to dry soil. Seeds of whorled milkweed can be purchased at the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Close-up of white flowers of whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata).
Flowers of Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) — Joshua Mayer (wackybadger), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Leaves of whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata).
Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) Leaves — Frank Mayfield (gmayfield10), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
White flowers of whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) in an open area.
Flowers of Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) — Mason Brock (Masebrock), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

25. Green Comet Milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora), a Milkweed for Medium to Dry Sandy Soils

Green Comet Milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora): Green comet milkweed is native throughout Oklahoma (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, it grows in open areas such as meadows and fields having full sun. Growing up to 3 feet tall, it has flowers that start out green and age to become yellow and purple tinged that bloom from June to August.

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, green comet milkweed is hardy in zones 3-9, requires full sun to part shade, and medium to dry sandy soil. Seeds of green comet milkweed can be purchased at the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Green flower cluster of green comet milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora).
Flowers of Green Comet Milkweed — Patrick Alexander from Las Cruces, NM, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Plant of green comet milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora).
Green Comet Milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora) — Matt Lavin from Bozeman, Montana, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Leaves of green comet milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora).
Leaves of Green Comet Milkweed — Patrick Alexander from Las Cruces, NM, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

26. Green Milkweed (Asclepias viridis), a Milkweed for Medium to Dry High pH Soils

Green Milkweed (Asclepias viridis): Green milkweed is native throughout Oklahoma, except for the western panhandle (Kartesz 2015). In the wild, green milkweed grows in open areas such as glades, prairies, roadsides, and pastures where there is full sun. Growing from 0.5 to 2 feet tall, it has green, yellowish-green, or white flowers that bloom from April to October.

In your Oklahoma butterfly garden, green milkweed is hardy in zones 5-9 and requires medium to dry soils having a high pH. Seeds of green milkweed can be purchased at the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

Close-up of greenish flowers of green milkweed (Asclepias viridis).
Flowers of Green Milkweed (Asclepias viridis) — Barnes Dr Thomas G, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Green flower cluster of green milkweed (Asclepias viridis).
Flower Cluster of Green Milkweed — Asclepias viridis Walter observed in United States of America by Alan Prather (licensed under CC BY 4.0)
Plant of green milkweed (Asclepias viridis).
Green Milkweed in an open area — Asclepias viridis Walter observed in United States of America by John Kees (licensed under CC0 1.0)

When selecting your Oklahoma milkweed, be sure to make sure it grows in your zone and habitat.

References for Oklahoma Milkweeds

  • Decker, K. 2006. Asclepias uncialis Greene (wheel milkweed): a technical conservation assessment. US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region.
  • Kartesz, J.T. The Biota of North America Program (BONAP). 2015. Taxonomic Data Center. Link to website. Chapel Hill, N.C. [maps generated from Kartesz, J.T. 2015. Floristic Synthesis of North America, Version 1.0. Biota of North America Program (BONAP). (in press)]
  • Woodson, Robert E. 1954. The North American Species of Asclepias L. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 41: 1-211.
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Robert Coxe

Robert Coxe

Robert Coxe is a professional ecologist and botanist who has worked as the State Ecologist of Delaware and as an ecologist for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. He is also a former Past-President of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science. He currently is an innkeeper at McMullen House Bed & Breakfast LLC and a web designer and owner for Silphium Design LLC.

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